Zion Williamson isn’t close to playing in an NBA game — he isn’t even doing full weight-bearing exercises yet — but he will start doing his rehab around the team.
Zion is leaving Portland and returning to New Orleans to continue his rehab at team facilities and to be around the Pelicans as they make a push into the play-in. Shams Charania of The Athletic broke the news.
Pelicans’ Zion Williamson is returning to New Orleans after spending time in Portland for his foot rehab, sources tell me and @WillGuillory. Williamson is cleared to progress in basketball activities. Pelicans have won four straight games and are in playoff race.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) March 5, 2022
Zion, however, is not traveling with the team on road trips.
Williamson is back in the city.
With the team set to leave for a road trip in a couple of hours, Williamson will join the team once they return next week, sources told ESPN today.
He is progressing to full-weight bearing activities. No 1-on-0 or anything like that for now. https://t.co/chXQLkEkOw
— Andrew Lopez (@_Andrew_Lopez) March 5, 2022
Zion had offseason foot surgery that has not healed as fast as he expected — Zion initially said he wanted to play opening night — and he has yet to play in a game this season. Amid rumors of him needing a second surgery, the Pelicans released a statement saying his rehab is progressing.
Update on Zion: Recent imaging showed improved bone healing of the fifth metatarsal in Zion Williamson’s right foot.
He will gradually progress to full weight-bearing exercise and basketball activities.
He remains out indefinitely. pic.twitter.com/ltbSbtmMgt
— New Orleans Pelicans (@PelicansNBA) March 2, 2022
Williamson recently faced criticism after newly-acquired Pelican CJ McCollum said he had not spoken to Zion almost 10 days after the trade (they have since spoken several times, according to McCollum). Reports of Zion not being an engaged teammate and his lack of trust in GM David Griffin went public.
Being around his teammates is at least a step in the right direction and a step toward him returning to the court. Eventually.
The Pelicans, winners of four straight, sit as the No. 10 seed in the West and are just half a game back (one in the loss column) from the Lakers just ahead of them.